U.S. Relies On Law from Governments Which Don’t Even HAVE a Constitution to Justify Assassination of U.S. Citizens By Drone

George Washington's picture

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says:

No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ….

So how did the legal memorandum “justifying” assassination of U.S. citizens by drone try to sidestep the Fifth Amendment?

It relied on reasoning from two countries that don’t have any constitution.

The New York Times reports:

One might have expected a thoughtful memo that carefully weighed the pros and cons and discussed how such a strike accords with international and Constitutional law.


Instead, the memo turns out to be a slapdash pastiche of legal theories — some based on obscure interpretations of British and Israeli law — that was clearly tailored to the desired result. Perhaps the administration held out so long to avoid exposing the thin foundation on which it based such a momentous decision.

Neither England nor Israel have a constitution.

Indeed, as the BBC notes, they are in a very small group of three:

In all but a handful of democracies in the world, the nation’s constitution can be found in a single document. The exceptions are Israel, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Nothing in the memo says that it only applies to U.S. citizens living abroad. Indeed, the government has claimed the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain any American citizen on U.S. citizen without any due process. And see this.

And – contrary to misleading statements to the contrary – the U.S. has never said that it won’t assassinate Americans living on U.S. soil.

Sadly, even though Americans have a constitution, we have lost virtually all of the rights contained in that document.

Postscript: While this article focuses on U.S. citizens,  assassinating non-citizens by drone has problems as well:

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VWAndy's picture

As I see it. The only way to set things right is gonna be thru greater accountability. As a parent its obviuos to me accountability goes a long way. Just think how much of todays bs has gone on long after it was proven to be bs. Its the lack of accountability.

 We can dance around it all we want but every honest person knows deep down its the only way. Death controls,economic reforms,monetary reforms bla bla bla. It all comes down to accountability. We dont have it now.

 We will continue to repete the cycle of oppression until this lack of accountability is corrected. Duh!

bh2's picture

Perpetual war cements perpetual expansion of powers of the state. A free people must be eternally vigilant to resist all threats against their liberty -- especially those mounted by the state. A people who disregard that duty will soon be no longer free. Either way, they always end up with the government they deserve.

Wahooo's picture

This from the Times editorial, astounding how a given inch of rope is taken a yard...

"The main theory that the government says allows it to kill American citizens, if they pose a threat, is the “public authorities justification,” a legal concept that permits governments to take actions in emergency situations that would otherwise break the law. It’s why fire trucks can break the speed limit and police officers can fire at a threatening gunman. But it’s a dangerous concept if expanded because it could be used to justify all kinds of government misdeeds, especially since Congress has never explicitly authorized an exception for official killing in this kind of circumstance, as the memo acknowledges.

"The sheer power of drone strikes, several of which have killed many innocent bystanders, is in no way comparable to the kind of police shootings that the memo cites as precedent. (And, in most cities, police shootings are carefully investigated afterward, and officers face punishment if they exceed their authority. Has that ever happened with an errant drone strike?)

"There’s no explanation given in the memo for how the United States knew Mr. Awlaki was planning “imminent” mayhem, as the memo claims. It’s possible that this information was contained in the dozen or so pages that were redacted from the 41-page memo, which was written by David Barron, then an assistant attorney general who was recently appointed to a federal appellate court. The memo says only that Mr. Awlaki had joined Al Qaeda and was planning attacks on Americans, but that the government did not know when these attacks would occur."

jmaloy5365's picture

I declare war against the United States government, it does not represent me no more.

Kina's picture

Quite often the purpose of US killings and invasions were for the purpose of creating enemies.

Terrorists and the US need each other to justify their existance.

In the case of US, the justification to create laws to remove the constitution and create a defacto dictatorship-Fascist state and pour endless funds into their mates, the military industrial complex.


The US is in fact itself a terrorist state, where it can unilaterally invade bomb and murder anywhere in the world according to its whims.

Without the USA over the last 50 years terrorism would now be a minor global issue.


VWAndy's picture

Solutions are possible. Some are known.  All thats lacking is the focus and the will to do it. I think thats what they are afraid of. The Tea party and Occupy showed me how broad the lure of real justice is. The consensus never got a chance to form. The potential is there.

jmaloy5365's picture

Only solution is a dictator that will do what's right and can't be bought. 

VWAndy's picture

I like the idea of a civil grand jury of non government related people. Possibly the ten finalists of the national speeling bee. The way they select jurors now is by government employees. Give them the NSA keys and let them run with it. Hang anyone that trys to mess with them. Let them lock up the bad guys on the spot. One year on the job and out they go.

 Long term checks and balance. What we are missing is our government being held accountable to anyone. You wont get that with a dictator.

 Bit by bit we lost the ability to hold the government accountable. The result is brazen criminality. At all levels.

VWAndy's picture

So RM. Is this one of those death controls you speak of?

Radical Marijuana's picture

Yes, VWAndy, that is obviously a form of "death control." However, I would regard that as being the runaway development of the psychotic national security State Religion attempting to impose crazy controls, which are therefore going to go out of control.

For more of my overview of the problems presented by the profoundly paradoxical effective privatization of the murder systems, see my comment under this article:


How Blackwater Survived Iraq Probes Of Being "Above The Law" - By Threatening To Kill Investigators
Kina's picture

How Blackwater Survived Iraq Probes Of Being "Above The Law" - By Threatening To Kill Investigators


Tells just how much the military industrial complex owns and controls Congress and the Whitehouse - US politicians have become the puppets of US-Global Corporations.

Military industrial complex employees feel safe in murdering government officials who get in their way, and get backing from other paid for officials.


Radical Marijuana's picture

After years of study of these issues, one of the labels that I settled on for some of these phenomena was:

Anglo-American (Zionist) Empire.

This article confirms that is a relatively good label for this kind of runaway organized crime dominating governments.  

Fish Gone Bad's picture

It would be nice if any official who (in their swearing in ceremony) was sworn to uphold the constitution, actually could take a test on the constitution and pass it.  To be a state employee, one has to swear to uphold the constitution.  To be a federal employee, one has to swear to uphold the constitution.  That is a lot of public officials, police and even teachers who are supposed to be responsible. 

Here is the test (You have one hour.):

Write out the entire Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights in your own handwriting. 

A passing score is a perfect transcript.  Failure pretty much means "one does not qualify for the job".

kchrisc's picture

They can reason, obfuscate and bloviate all they want, but murder is murder and treason is treason.

Murder, oath and Article 3, Section 3 violations combined with war-crimes and crimes against humanity pretty much seals their fate.


"Guillotines this way. No waiting."

VWAndy's picture

Maybe we could figure out what had them panicing at that moment?

shovelhead's picture

Someone should publish Congress's home addresses along with every Dept. head in the Executive, the Cabinet and the Supremes.

If they want to let NSA spy on us then we should be able to spy on them.

If you got nothing to hide...

VWAndy's picture

It sure seems like tptb are scared of something.

ATM's picture

They don't like pitch forks.

kurt's picture

About Face, Now!

Remington IV's picture

who's the due process guy ???

putaipan's picture

maritime law. ALL CAPS. gold finged flags. there is a constiution .... but it is not the same one that was originally ratifed.

Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture

Yes, and since there was neither a Constitutional Convention with the several States authorizing this change our government is unlawfully constituted and has been since at least 1871.

theyjustcantstop's picture

the snowball effect, you let one elected person go unpunished for breaking his constitutionally taken oath, and it turns into accectable, and thats where were at.

you take the first tax dollar from one american, to give to another unconstitutionally, for political gains, and thats where were at.

proven voter-fraud, voter i.d., and illegals colecting american tax dollar entitleements, and jobs illegally, you question that, and your labeled racist, and unamerican.

nsa unfriendlies, nwo non-believers, coming up disappeared is just the snowball getting bigger.

mastersnark's picture

The Constitution; that great document that has provided the frame work for this police state we are living in.

Gun bans? Constitutional!

SWAT raids? Constitutional!

Income tax? You better believe that's Constitutional!

All hail the Constitution!

armageddon addahere's picture

The USSR under Stalin had a great constitution. Not that he ever looked at it.

no more banksters's picture

Coming soon: Private NSAs not obliged to give information about their activities even when they kill


WTFx10's picture

The UK and Israel? Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm.

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour 

what's that smell's picture


dirty word, filthy word...no such thing as palestine.

you must be one of those antisemitic conspiracy theorist freedom-and-democracy-hater types.

who's in charge of the memory hole this week? get to work!

shovelhead's picture

That news is a bit dated.

PiratePiggy's picture

"It creates more terrorists than it kills (see this, this, this, this and this) …"


During the US war in Vietnam, the US killed far more people than the the CIA had told President Kennedy were with the entire Viet Cong.... yet the US had to make a hasty exit.


Killing innocent people, no matter what their number, quickly causes the number of your enemies to multiply.  Justice, family and friends triump over theoritical ideology.  Burn down an entire villiage to save it  from the Viet Cong and you will find an entire villiage of people that suddenly hate you even though they had hated the Viet Cong the day before.


It's not rocket science.

El Vaquero's picture

I heard an old man once say "Never make enemies faster than you can kill them."  He was an anti-war type, but from a pragmatic standpoint, he was right.  In the case of Vietnam, we could have killed them a lot faster, but we were unwilling to out of fear of igniting a larger conflict.  There is such a thing as causing such fear and horror that people would rather submit than go on fighting, even if you killed their loved ones.  This point varies from person to person and culture to culture. 


But we should have never been in Vietnam in the first place, and war should be avoided whenever possible so that you don't have to contemplate becoming a monster. 

Transformer's picture

Most people who were there figured out that the Vietnam war was a resource war, as any other.  The CIA was taking over the clandestine trade, in the beginning of their effort to rule that industry world wide, and secure funding for black ops that would truly allow them to do whatever they wanted from then until now.  The war was a complete success.  Their goals were completely realized.

shovelhead's picture

It worked in Hiroshima and Nagasaki...

They laid right the fuck down.

rwe2late's picture


the Japanese were ready to surrender

but were denied on the same terms before the A-bombing,

as were accepted after the A-bombing (keeping their figurehead "emperor").

The bombings were done to intimidate Russia, not save US lives or any other of the phoney public excuses promulgated.


the grateful unemployed's picture

and to a lesser degree at Kent State

Reaper's picture

Laws and Constitutional rights are words on paper, that a government may chose to obey. The common delusion of mankind is that they could have a good king, a good President, good courts, good police, good bureaucrats who will not be corrupted by their power. The common feel-good vice of the sheeple is that their trust changes the corrupting nature of power.

ATM's picture

"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." --Thomas Jefferson

Emergency Ward's picture

Killer in the White House, killer on the loose,


"...there's a killer on the road,
His brain is squirmin' like a toad,
If you give this man a Prize
Sweet memory will die
Killer on the road, yeah..."

-- from Jim Morrison

I Write Code's picture

It might be that some public ruling should first be made that said person has forfeited citizenship and placed themselves in a state of war with the United States.  Or, given exigencies, it may be that such a ruling can be made after the fact.  It's all ugly, but war is ugly, treason is ugly, and it's not realistic to think you can clean it all up.

Emergency Ward's picture

Made-up justification for execution after the fact is as ugly as war.  Unless you like that kind of shit.

Ignatius's picture

This is what the Great White Fathers desire.

Their fear is palpable; their greed can't be sated.

FeralSerf's picture

"No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law …."

The 5th Amendment states "person", not "citizen". But then again on the other hand, "the Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper."

the grateful unemployed's picture

thank goodness John Boehner has the courage to stand up to the President and say, I file a lawsuit against you sir! he certainly rates up their with the other founding fathers, Give Me Litigation, or Give Me Death!

BraveSirRobin's picture

I the Obama, of the People's Democratic Republic of Obama, in order to create a more perfect Obama, establish injustice, domestic intraquility, provide for my defense, promote my general welfare, and secure money you have for myself and my cronies, because you didn't build that, do ordain this constitution for the People's Democratic Republic of Obama.

Article I:

There shall be a congress whose members shall be selected by me. The congress shall be in session when I declare it to be in session, and not in session when I say so. It shall pass all laws as I instruct it. Should congress pass a law and I sign it, I may change that law or enforce or not enforce that law as I desire. Should congress fail to act, I may pass a law by executive order and change, enforce, or not enforce such orders as I desire.

Article II:

There shall be a president, and I shall be him. The president shall have such powers and privileges as he so desires.

Article III:

There shall be a Supreme Court, whose members shall be appointed by me. They can pronounce anything they like, as I shall ignore everything they do if it pleases me.

Bill of My Rights:

1. I shall respect no religion, and prohibit the free exercise thereof as I desire. I may abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

2. A well regulated Militia, being a threat to my security and power, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be tolerated.

3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace or war may be quartered in any house if he criticize or think ill of me.

4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall be violated as I desire, and no Warrants shall need be issued.

5. Any person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; and shall have private property taken for my use, without just compensation, as I deem, because you didn't build that.

6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall not enjoy the right to a speedy or public trial, and may be detained indefinitely without trial if I deem them to be a terrorist or other malcontent.

7. In suits at common law, I may deem my agencies and representatives, and I myself, immune from all actions and rulings, nor do we need to respond to subpoena or court order of any kind.

8. Excessive bail shall be required if I deem it so, as well as excessive fines imposed, and cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to apply to any person other than myself.


10. The powers not delegated to me, nor prohibited by me, are reserved to me

Manthong's picture

You know the country is f’d when the source of ultimate Constitutional decision making does not rely exclusively on the Constitution.


roadlust's picture

You know the country is F'd when the government relies on ISRAELI "law" for authority. 

Israel's international lawlessness (assinations, kidnappings, imprisonments without trials, indefinite detentions, military annexation, occupation, "pre-emptive" strikes, etc., etc.) has been the outrageous template for our military/security state's rogue behavior, first under the Bush/Cheney Junta, and now continuing under Obama. 

Looking to Israel as an "example," for a way of life is ever so reassuring to those of us who grew up thinking we lived under a Constitution that protected our citizens from exactly this sort of criminal government.

Stackers's picture

You should also note that the Constitution states "No Person" .... not "No citizen of the US"

The constitution restricts the actions of the federal government not only to protect citizens but any "person" regardless of nationality or location